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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 21, 2017.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Girls & Women

Justin Trudeau Interrupted Woman Who Said ‘Mankind’ to Explain He Prefers ‘Peoplekind’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is known to call himself a proud feminist. And for the most part he’s backed up his words. He focused on appointing women to the cabinet positions; spoke about the importance of being a feminist on stage with Melinda Gates; and committed $650 million to women’s health and reproductive rights. 

But on Tuesday, the PM brought the conversation back to gender equality while fielding questions at a town hall in Edmonton, and his approach — well — it fell flat. 

Asked an admittedly quite meandering question about volunteer policies within religious institutions by a representative from the World Mission Society Church of God, Trudeau responded with a quip. 

“Maternal love is the love that’s going to change the future of mankind, so we’d like you to —” the woman said, according to the Cut, to which Trudeau interrupted: “We like to say ‘peoplekind.’ Not necessarily ‘mankind.’ It’s more inclusive.”

Take Action: Tweet at Influential Companies to #BuyWomenOwned

While the woman who asked the question seemed heartened by Trudeau’s interjection, responding “There you go. Yes, thank you!”, some on the internet were not so enamored, calling it ‘mansplaining,’ and pointing out the irony of a feminist man interrupting a woman, according to Yahoo

Others criticized Trudeau’s comment for being too “politically correct.”  

The deluge of heavy criticism online led the leader to retract his statement Wednesday, calling it a “dumb joke” that “doesn't play so well” out of context. 

Read More: There’s Some Info Missing in That ‘Epic’ Justin Trudeau Rolling Stone Article

But the truth is Trudeau’s ‘manterruption’ falls into an unfortunately all-too-common phenomenon that affects women in a variety of professions. 

According to one study about women in the tech field, women are interrupted twice as often as men. A 2012 study found that men take up about 75% of conversation time during conference meetings, and also dominate class discussions in law school courses. And in the first US presidential election debate, Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 times in one hour

The trend is so dire that one company actually created an app called “Woman Interrupted” so that women could quantify the phenomenon. 

Read More: Women Are Interrupted by Men So Often This Agency Made an App About It

Some, however, have gone to bat for Trudeau, saying that the woman he interrupted was an “an intensely religious Christian-adjacent heretic” and noting that she also interrupted the prime minister just moments into his response to her actual question. 

But regardless of the situation, it seems like Trudeau learned his lesson, about cracking wise at least. 

“It's a little reminder that I shouldn't be making jokes even when I think they're funny,” he said of the incident.